Tag: high risk

About That Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

We know that immunocompromised kids are especially at risk from vaccine preventable diseases, both because they are immunocompromised and because they often can’t get vaccinated or fully vaccinated.

That why herd immunity is important and there are immunization protocols for immunocompromised kids.

About That Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

One of the most commonly followed protocols, 2013 IDSA Clinical Practice Guideline for Vaccination of the Immunocompromised Host, was recently published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“Healthy immunocompetent individuals who live in a household with immunocompromised patients should receive the following live vaccines based on the CDC annual schedule: combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines; rotavirus vaccine in infants aged 2–7 months; varicella vaccine (VAR); and zoster vaccine (ZOS). Also, these individuals can safely receive the following vaccines for travel: yellow fever vaccine and oral typhoid vaccine.”

2013 IDSA Clinical Practice Guideline for Vaccination of the Immunocompromised Host

There are also guidelines from the Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, the ACIP, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

All of the protocols support kids getting vaccinated and protected, unless they have a medical exemption, and that their contacts get vaccinated and protected.

Is it any wonder that some parents are scared to vaccinate their kids after listening to these folks speak at these rallies?

That’s why it is surprising to hear what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr had to say about the protocol he reviewed from Johns Hopkins.

“So I went to the Johns Hopkins protocols for immunocompromised children. And I read it. And when I read it, it’s a long, dense document, but there’s no place in that entire document that said immunocompromised children should be kept away from unvaccinated children. Do you know what there is? Ah! It says that the real danger to immunocompromised children is vaccinated children, because, whatever you do, don’t let your immunocompromised child near a child who has recently, meaning six weeks, had a chickenpox vaccine. Don’t let your child anywhere near a child who has had a polio vaccine. Or a pertussis vaccine. And that’s the worst one. Because the child with pertussis has no knowledge that he has pertussis. He is an asymptomatic carrier. But he can pass it to your child. And he is more likely to pass it to your child if he is vaccinated!”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

Where is this Johns Hopkins protocol that Kennedy read?

Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.

He can’t be referring to the old version of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide for the Immunocompromised Patient, can he? The revised Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide no longer routinely warns about contact with children who were recently vaccinated.

Although anyone with a severe immunodeficiency should avoid those who have recently received the oral polio vaccine, that vaccine hasn’t been used in the United States since 2000. Also, you don’t have to avoid folks who have received the chickenpox vaccine, unless they get a rash and it is uncovered. And you certainly don’t have to avoid anyone who has received the pertussis vaccine, as it is not a live vaccine.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide does warn those who are immunocompromised to “Tell friends and family who are sick not to visit.”

Who’s more likely to get sick with things like measles, chickenpox, and pertussis?

Folks who are unvaccinated!

“The threat of pertussis and other childhood communicable diseases to children with immunodeficiency is particularly alarming. The increased risk of disease in the pediatric population, in part because of increasing rates of vaccine refusal and in some circumstances more rapid loss of immunity, increases potential exposure of immunodeficient children. The immunosuppressed subject is particularly at risk in crowded living conditions because of the spread of these diseases by aerosol droplets or through the oral-fecal route.”

Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation on Recommendations for live viral and bacterial vaccines in immunodeficient patients and their close contacts

Has Kennedy read the protocols from the Immune Deficiency Foundation? They do warn of the risk from intentionally unvaccinated kids!

Has he read the Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide, which was updated at least two years ago?

Have you, especially if you are thinking about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines?

More on the Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

Understanding the Vaccine Injury Table

The Vaccine Injury Table was created by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

“The Table makes it easier for some people to get compensation. The Table lists and explains injuries/conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines. It also lists time periods in which the first symptom of these injuries/conditions must occur after receiving the vaccine. If the first symptom of these injuries/conditions occurs within the listed time periods, it is presumed that the vaccine was the cause of the injury or condition unless another cause is found.”

What You Need to Know about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

A table injury is an illness, disability, injury or condition covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

“For example, if you received the tetanus vaccine and had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) within 4 hours after receiving the vaccine, then it is presumed that the tetanus vaccine caused the injury if no other cause is found.”

What You Need to Know about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

To quality as a table injury, the illness, disability, injury or condition has to occur within a specific “time period for first symptom or manifestation of onset or of significant aggravation after vaccine administration.”

Understanding the Vaccine Injury Table

So if there is a Vaccine Injury Table, then that proves that vaccine injuries are real, right?

The Vaccine Injury Table is easier to understand if you actually look at the table.
The Vaccine Injury Table is easier to understand if you actually look at the table.

Wait, does anyone dispute that vaccine injuries are real?

No one says that vaccines are 100% safe, so yes, of course, it is known that they have risks and cause adverse effects. While most of these adverse effects are usually mild, they can rarely be severe or even life threatening.

The idea the vaccine injuries are common is what is misunderstood and misrepresented by anti-vaccine folks.

It's no joke, studies have shown fewer side effects after the second dose of MMR!
It’s no joke, studies have shown fewer side effects after the second dose of MMR!

Consider the above post by Bob Sears

Yes chronic arthritis after a rubella containing vaccine is a table injury, but it is very rare. Arthritis after the rubella vaccine is typically mild and temporary, lasting just a few days.

While rubella containing vaccines can cause arthritis, they do not cause lifelong rheumatoid arthritis. So even if you were to be one of the very rare people who developed chronic arthritis after a rubella containing vaccine, a table injury, it would still not be the same thing as rheumatoid arthritis.

“The association between rubella vaccination and chronic arthritis is less clear. Most recently published research, has shown no increased risk of chronic arthropathies among women receiving RA27/3 rubella vaccine and do not support the conclusion of the IOM (Slater et al., 1995; Frenkel et al., 1996; Ray et al., 1997). These studies have included a large retrospective cohort analysis which showed no evidence of any increased risk of new onset chronic arthropathies and a double-blind historical cohort study. One randomised placebo-controlled, double-blind study of rubella vaccination in sero-negative women demonstrated that the frequency of chronic (recurrent) arthralgia or arthritis was marginally increased (1.58 [1.01-2.45], p = 0.042) (Tingle et al., 1997). In 2011, the United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed available research and concluded that the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and chronic arthralgia in women.”

Information Sheet Observed Rate of Vaccine Reactions Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccines

And it wouldn’t even be clear if your chronic arthritis was caused by the vaccine!

“The Table lists and explains injuries and/or conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines unless another cause is proven.”

What You Need to Know about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

To be added to the Vaccine Injury Table, there only has to be scientific evidence that a condition could be caused by a vaccine.

“Where there is credible scientific and medical evidence both to support and to reject a proposed change (addition or deletion) to the Table, the change should, whenever possible, be made to the benefit of petitioners.”

Guiding Principles for Recommending Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table

That makes sense, as the NVICP is a “is a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions” for VICP-covered vaccines.

Vaccines Covered by the Vaccine Injury Table

Most routinely used vaccines are covered by the Vaccine Injury Table, including vaccines that protect against:

  • diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis – DTaP, Tdap, Td
  • measles, mumps, and rubella – MMR, ProQuad
  • chickenpox – Varivax, ProQuad
  • polio – IPV, OPV
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis A
  • Hib
  • rotavirus
  • pneumococcal disease – Prevnar
  • influenza – seasonal flu vaccines
  • meningococcal disease – MCV4, MenB
  • human papillomavirus – HPV4, HPV9

In fact, “any new vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine administration to children, after publication by the Secretary of a notice of coverage” is automatically included, at least for Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration and vasovagal syncope.

New vaccines are also covered if they are already “under a category of vaccines covered by the VICP.”

Immunizations given to pregnant women are also covered.

A few others, including vaccines that protect against pandemic flu, smallpox, and anthrax are covered by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).

Vaccines Not Covered by the Vaccine Injury Table

What about vaccines that aren’t routine?

Other vaccines that are used in special situations, including vaccines that protect against rabies, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, and typhoid aren’t listed in the Vaccine Injury Table and aren’t covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Have you seen any TV ads for lawsuits against the shingles vaccine, which isn't in the vaccine injury table.
Have you seen any TV ads for lawsuits against the first shingles vaccine?

Shingles vaccines and the older pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumovax, aren’t covered either.

And since they are not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, there are no restrictions on lawsuits against the manufacturers of these vaccines or the health providers who administer them.

So much for the idea that you can’t sue a vaccine manufacturer or that vaccine manufacturers have no liability for vaccines…

Why weren’t these vaccines covered?

Remember, the NVICP and Vaccine Injury Table were created by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The vaccines that aren’t covered are not on the routine childhood immunization schedule.

“There are no age restrictions on who may receive compensation in the VICP. Petitions may be filed on behalf of infants, children and adolescents, or by adults receiving VICP-covered vaccines.”

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Frequently Asked Questions

Still, since many of the covered vaccines can be given to adults, they are included, even if some of the vaccines adults routinely get aren’t covered.

Will they ever be covered?

“They found a low liability burden for these vaccines, that serious adverse events were rare, and that no consensus existed among stakeholders. After considering the staff report, NVAC chose, in 1996, not to advise the Department of Health and Human Services to include adult vaccines in VICP.”

Loyd-Puryear et al on Should the vaccine injury compensation program be expanded to cover adults?

Adding more adult vaccines to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is something that has been looked at in the past, but it wasn’t thought to be necessary.

What to Know About the Vaccine Injury Table

The Vaccine Injury Table is a list of conditions set up to make it easier for people to get compensated from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

More on Understanding the Vaccine Injury Table

Is My Fully Vaccinated Child at Risk from Your Unvaccinated Kids?

Parents who skip or delay their own child’s vaccines often seem surprised that the rest of us are so concerned about their decision.

If vaccines work, they say, why do we care if their kids aren’t vaccinated?

Vaccines are protecting our kids, so they shouldn’t be at risk, right?

“Think of camping as an analogy. If everyone at a campground properly stores their food, bears won’t be enticed to come around. If even one person leaves their food unprotected, it invites bears in to investigate all the campsites for opportunities to eat.”

How does choosing not to immunize affect the community?

Of course, the issue isn’t just the risk to our fully vaccinated kids, but also the risk to those who are too young to be vaccinated, too young to be fully vaccinated, and those who can’t be vaccinated because of true medical contraindications.

In addition to those who are intentionally unvaccinated, these others often get caught up in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Is My Fully Vaccinated Child at Risk from Your Unvaccinated Kids?

But there is also a risk to those who are fully vaccinated, and no, that doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t work.

It just means that they don’t work 100% of the time.

And most of us don’t think that your vaccine choice should put our kids at extra risk.

Anti-vaccine propaganda pushes some folks to make bad decisions about vaccines.
Anti-vaccine propaganda pushes some folks to make bad decisions about vaccines.

Did you hear about the one measles outbreak in 2011 that was started by someone who was fully vaccinated?

“She had documentation of receipt of MMR vaccination at 3 years and 4 years of age. There was no travel during the incubation period and no known sick contacts. However, the index patient worked at a theater frequented by tourists.”

Outbreak of Measles Among Persons With Prior Evidence of Immunity, New York City, 2011

The thing about that outbreak, is that of the 222 cases that year, she was the only one known to be vaccinated. So she was almost certainly exposed to measles by someone who wasn’t vaccinated.

As someone who was fully vaccinated, is it fair that she got caught up in those outbreaks?

It is especially unfair that our kids are at extra risk for vaccine-preventable diseases because some folks make a decision to leave their kids unvaccinated and unprotected because they believe anti-vaccine misinformation like:

  • you have nothing to worry about because your child is vaccinated – again, vaccines aren’t 100% effective, so there is still some risk until a disease is finally eradicated
  • someone who is vaccinated could also get your child sick – yes, but someone who is vaccinated would be less likely to get sick than someone who is unvaccinated
  • vaccinated kids are shedding virus, making everyone sick – no, they aren’t, not even during “shedding season
  • getting vaccinated doesn’t prevent disease, it just makes it so you have fewer symptoms, but you still get others sick – in most cases, vaccines keep you from getting sick altogether – they so prevent disease in most cases, but yes, if you still got sick, you will likely have milder symptoms than if you were completely unvaccinated
  • you can’t spread a disease you don’t have – that’s true, but if you are unvaccinated and unprotected, you are at much higher risk to get these diseases and then spread them to others
  • vaccines don’t prevent diseases from spreading anyway – if you don’t get a disease because you are vaccinated, you aren’t going to spread it
  • getting vaccinated just turns you into a carrier – this is about the study in baboons, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get vaccinated

What about the idea that you will just keep your unvaccinated kids home if they do catch something?

What are the chances that you could be exposed to measles during an outbreak?
What are the chances that you could be exposed to measles during an outbreak?

Looking at all of the places that the folks in the Clark County measles outbreak exposed others, it should be clear that waiting to quarantine your child if they get sick isn’t very effective.

What’s the problem?

An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines.
An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines. Photo by Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

With many diseases, you are contagious before you show symptoms. That is especially true with a disease like measles, when you may not even realize it is measles until you finally break out in a rash, after having 3 to 5 days of high fever.

That’s why it is important to vaccinate and protect your kids. When you skip or delay a vaccine, it is not just your own family that you are putting at risk.

More on Risks from Unvaccinated Kids

How Often Should You Do Vaccine Titer Testing?

We sometimes hear about folks doing vaccine titer testing.

A vaccine titer is a blood test that can determine whether or not you are immune to a disease after you get a vaccine.

While that sounds good, after all, why not check and be sure, it has downsides. Chief among them is that the results aren’t always accurate.

That’s right. You can sometimes have a negative titer test, but still be immune because of memory B cells and the anamnestic response.

How Often Should You Do Vaccine Titer Testing?

So how often should you do vaccine titer testing?

It depends, but most folks might never have it done!

Why not?

Vaccines work very well, so you would typically not need to routinely check and confirm that you are immune after being vaccinated. And, this is also important, the vaccine titer tests don’t always work that well, titer testing isn’t available for all vaccines (you can’t do titer testing for Hib and pertussis), and the testing can be expensive.

So we usually just do the testing (a quantitative titer) for folks that are in high risk situations, including:

  • pregnancy – rubella titer only (HBsAg is also done, but that’s not a vaccine titer test, but rather to see if you are chronically infected with hepatitis B)
  • healthcare workers – anti-HBs (antibody to the hepatitis B surface antigen to confirm immunity after being vaccinated)
  • students in nursing school and medical school, etc. – anti-HBs
  • children and adults exposed in an outbreakmeasles, chicken pox, mumps, etc., but only if we are unsure if they were previously vaccinated and protected
  • after a needlestick injury, etc. – to confirm immunity to hepatitis B
  • babies born to a mother with hepatitis B – to confirm that their hepatitis B vaccine worked

Vaccine titer testing might also be done for:

  • internationally adopted children – to confirm that they are immune if we unsure about all of the vaccines the child got in other countries
  • children and adults with lost vaccine records – to confirm that they are immune, since we are unsure about all of the vaccines they got
  • evaluation of children and adults with immune system problems – to help identify what immune system problems they might have – typically involves checking pneumococcal titers, giving Prevnar, and then checking pneumococcal titers again
  • people at continuous or frequent risk for rabies – rabies titer testing every 6 months to 2 years
  • patients with inflammatory bowel disease, before starting immunosuppressive therapy – hepatitis A and hepatitis B titers, as they might be at increased risk for hepatitis

While checking titers is easy, it is sometimes harder to know what to do with the results you get.

Of all of these different titers, only one tells you that you are immune due to vaccination.
Of all of these different titers, only one tells you that you are immune due to vaccination.

It is especially important to know that:

  • most people don’t need to have their titers checked routinely if they are not in one of the high-risk groups noted above
  • it isn’t practical to get titers tested as a method of potentially skipping one or more doses of your child’s vaccines, after all, if the titer is negative, then you are still going to have to get vaccinated
  • a healthcare provider with a negative measles titer after two doses of the MMR vaccine does not need another dose of vaccine
  • a healthcare provider who has anti-HBs <10 mIU/mL (negative titer) after three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine should get another dose of vaccine and repeat testing in 1 to 2 months – if still <10 mIU/mL, they should then get two more doses of hepatitis B vaccine (for a total of 6 doses) and repeat testing. If still negative, these documented nonresponders will need HBIG as post-exposure prophylaxis for any future hepatitis B exposures, but no further doses of hepatitis B vaccine.
  • vaccinated women of childbearing age who have received one or two doses of rubella-containing vaccine and have rubella serum IgG levels that is not clearly positive should be administered one additional dose of MMR vaccine, with a maximum of three doses, and should not be tested again
  • postvaccination titer testing is not recommended after the chicken pox vaccine
  • in addition to not being able to test titers for pertussis and Hib immunity, it is becoming difficult to test poliovirus type 2 titers, as the test uses a live virus that isn’t routinely available anymore (type 2 polio has been eradicated)

Still think you need vaccine titer testing?

More on Vaccine Titer Testing